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topic 11351

ZrN (zirconium nitride) coatings


 

Q. Hi,

I'm studying some coating and I would have some information about ZrN coating. Please inform me about advantages of this coating and what is the process.

Thanks,

christophe petit
Christophe Petit
- Chicago, Illinois, USA


 

A. Hello Christophe!

ZrN is a commonly applied physical vapor deposition coating. When done right it looks like gold in color, and is more wear resistant even though it is quite thin (about 2 to 5 microns). I know Richter Precision does this process, and can tell you a lot more about it. Do a search on "PVD coatings" and you'll likely find others.

Good luck!

lee gearhart
Lee Gearhart
metallurgist



 

A. ZrN is a hard coating, somewhat harder than TiN, but otherwise very similar in nature. It is used on cutting tools, but to a lesser degree than TiN, as it is somewhat more expensive to deposit. It is better than TiN for decorative purposes -- much closer in color to gold, and provides better corrosion resistance. By adding a little carbon, you can achieve a brass color. The gold drills sold at Sears are ZrN coated, as are many high-priced faucets and door knobs.

jim treglio portrait
Jim Treglio
- Vista, California



Zirconium Nitride Plating on Steel

(2002)

Q. Our facility though not a metal finishing company utilizes many finishing processes to enhance metal surfaces for our end product. I am currently researching potential processes and formulas to add to our electroplating facility. Our one and only electroplating process is a non alkaline zinc on 1008 Steel. What processes are available which will enable our organization to add titanium or zirconium nitride plating? The ultimate goal is to add a gold finish to an existing product, but keep our zinc electroplating as well. What options are available to us to enhance our current plating line to add another finish? What are the waste treatment liabilities and options for adding a zirconium nitride process?

Michele La Vasseur
- East Bloomfield, New York


(2002)

A. Hi Michele. Titanium nitride and zirconium nitride are not applied by electroplating. They are applied by PVD processes (gaseous processes) in a vacuum chamber. However, it is often desirable or necessary to include an electroplated underplate--perhaps nickel plating--underneath the PVD coating.

Ted Mooney, finishing.com Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey


(2002)

A. Just to add to the previous response, it depends very much on what you are looking for in a finish. For decorative coating purposes, a thin ZrN is usually deposited over electroless nickel, sometimes with a hard chrome interface. For wear applications, a much thicker ZrN coating is applied directly on the substrate. As the ZrN is deposited by PVD, there is no waste stream.

jim treglio portrait
Jim Treglio
- Vista, California

(2002)

A. Ted is correct that an electroplated layer is needed. TiN and ZrN like coatings are noble in nature and will cause severe corrosion in steels if applied directly. You need to seal the steel similar to that in decorative chrome. These need to be applied as the final finish. Also, severe difference in thermal expansion coefficient will result in cracking of nitrides if applied directly. Depending on size and shape, there may be a limitation where it can be applied.

Mandar Sunthankar
- Fort Collins, Colorado


sidebar (2002)

Isn't zinc one of the elements that sublimes in vacuum when it gets hot? If so, depositing ZrN or TiN over the zinc plating might be very difficult. The plating will be coming off when the coating is going down.

John Davis
John Davis
- Berthoud, Colorado, USA


(2002)

It is generally a bad idea to heat zinc coated objects in a vacuum system. In fact, it's not a good idea to put them in there in the first place. Zinc has a very high vapor pressure, and will contaminate the chamber.

jim treglio portrait
Jim Treglio
- Vista, California

March 2014

Hi John. Hi Jim. Thanks for warning us about that issue. But I didn't read it that Michele wanted to put zinc plated parts through the PVD process.

Regards,

Ted Mooney, finishing.com
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey



Residue after ZrN coating

March 21, 2014

Q. I have a surgical blade that has a ZrN coating (2-5 microns thick). The blades have set on a shelf for a month or so and leave a blackish residue when wiped across with a piece of paper. A soft cloth yields no residue only paper. The blades are cleaned in 40KHz ultrasonic bath using 1.5% Citranox cleaner for 2 minutes (any longer turns the light gold color to a rust orange color). Rinsed in DI water and sealed in a porous pouch for sterilization. Any ideas as to what the black residue is?

Thanks in advance!

Jennifer Wright
- Vermilion, Ohio USA


March 27, 2014

Question: Are the blades sitting on the shelf before cleaning, or after cleaning, i.e., do you see the black residue after you have removed them from the sterilization pouch?

jim treglio portrait
Jim Treglio
- Vista, California

March 27, 2014

Q. The blades are sitting on the shelf after coating (which have the residue). Once an order is placed, we pull from stock and run through the ultrasonic wash (which we have determined does not remove the residue).

I have heard that the ZrN coating can leave a "dust" that is nearly impossible to clean off without rubbing the surface that was coated.

Thank you,

Jennifer Wright [returning]
- Vermilion Ohio


March 28, 2014

A. The coating was likely deposited by cathodic arc. In this process, an intense arc is formed on the target that locally evaporates and ionizes the metal. It also forms a pool of molten metal on the surface. The pool spits out droplets of molten metal which land on the substrate and solidify. These macro-particles might be what you are seeing.

jim treglio portrait
Jim Treglio
- Vista, California



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